Windows 10 SSH vs. PuTTY: Time to Switch Your Remote Access Client?
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One of the most common methods to communicate between computers, particularly Linux machines and web servers, is SSH. When it comes to establishing this sort of communication in Windows, the default option has been to install PuTTY.

Thanks to the Windows PowerShell, however, you may not need PuTTY anymore. Let’s take a look at how to set up SSH access in Windows 10, and whether the new tools can supplant PuTTY.

How to Install SSH in Windows 10 (Quick)

Installing SSH functionality to the Windows 10 PowerShell is straightforward enough, but the menu options for it are somewhat hidden. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. View the Apps
  3. Go to the Manage optional features
  4. Click Add a feature.
  5. Select OpenSSH Client.
  6. Wait, then reboot.

Once this is done, you can establish SSH connections with other, compatible computers. If an SSH server has been installed and configured on the remote machine, a connection can be made.

That’s the overview. Here are the details.

How to Install SSH in Windows 10 (Detailed)

Windows 10’s PowerShell implementation of SSH is a version of the OpenSSH project. You can find the project page on GitHub.

You should find that SSH is already installed on your Windows 10 computer (it was included in the April 2018 update), but if not, it can be easily added.

To check, open the Power User menu (right-click Start, or Windows key + X) and select Windows PowerShell. Here, input the command “ssh”. If SSH is not yet installed, you’ll see a screen like this:

SSH is not installed on Windows 10

Fixing this is easy enough. Press Windows key + I to open the Settings view, then go to Apps and look for Manage optional features. Click this, then look for an entry labelled “OpenSSH”.

Install SSH on Windows 10

If you can’t see it, click Add a feature then scroll down until you see OpenSSH Client. Click to expand the item and view the description.

When you’re ready, click Install to add it to your PC. A few moments later, the new SSH client for Windows PowerShell will be installed. It’s worth rebooting Windows to ensure the app is correctly installed.

A Note on the SSH Server App

It’s worth highlighting the fact that you can also install an SSH server. While it is unlikely that Microsoft will enable any form of universal remote administration over SSH, having it as an option is nevertheless useful.

To install this, repeat the above steps, selecting OpenSSH Server.

Using SSH in Windows PowerShell

Once SSH is installed and working, you can use it to communicate with another computer. For instance, you might use it to access a Raspberry Pi (one of several remote options How to Remote Connect to a Windows PC From a Raspberry Pi How to Remote Connect to a Windows PC From a Raspberry Pi Wouldn't it be great if you could access your PC from your Raspberry Pi no matter where you are? Well, you can! All you need is a remote desktop app. Read More for that little computer).

Usage is simple. In the PowerShell, enter the ssh command, followed by the username for an account on the remote device, and its IP address.

Connect to a device using SSH in Windows PowerShell

For instance, to connect to my Raspberry Pi box running RetroPie, I used:

ssh pi@192.168.1.76

At this point, the remote device should prompt you to accept a secure key. Type Yes to agree to this, then at the prompt, enter the password for the username you used.

Moments later, you’ll be connected to the remote Linux device, ready to perform whatever tasks you need.

PowerShell’s SSH Features vs. PuTTY

PuTTY has long been the preferred choice for SSH on Windows. Whether controlling web servers, accessing Internet of Things devices What Is the Internet of Things? What Is the Internet of Things? What is the Internet of Things? Here's everything you need to know about it, why it's so exciting, and some of the risks. Read More or remotely administering a Linux PC, it’s a lightweight, easy to use app.

One of the reasons for PuTTY’s endurance is its wide selection of features. So, can SSH on Windows PowerShell compete with PuTTY?

SSH commands for Windows 10

Well, in terms of providing SSH functionality, yes it can. You can find out how to use some of the extended features of SSH on Windows 10 by entering the ssh command:

ssh

The resulting list of options outlines the features. For example, you can specify a port:

ssh [username]@[hostname] -p [port]

The possibilities are good!

However, it’s still not PuTTY. While you can bind an address with OpenSSH on Windows, you’re limited by the number of addresses you can save.

PuTTY enables SSH connections on Windows

There is a reason why PuTTY remains popular. Not only does it allow you to save (and name) your connections, the app also supports connections over Telnet, Serial, and other protocols. PuTTY’s appearance is also configurable, can it be quickly launched from the desktop. All in all, PuTTY is a solid utility that handles pretty much anything that you can throw at it.

Why SSH When You Can Use Linux?

While remote controlling Linux over SSH might be vital, you may not even need SSH. Windows 10 now features a Linux subsystem and a Bash-like command prompt.

This means that you can easily input Linux commands and receive realistic responses. While it might not be ideal for all scenarios, if you need Linux access for college or training purposes, and don’t have SSH access (regardless of app) to a Linux device, this might be ideal.

Of course, this isn’t the only option. If you need to practice Bash commands in Windows, you can always set up a virtual machine. Simply install a Linux distribution into this and (hardware permitting) you have a Linux OS ready to use.

Is It Time to Abandon PuTTY on Windows 10?

SSH is easy to use in Windows 10’s PowerShell. However, its lack of features, along with requiring a few more clicks to load up, mean you might prefer to stick with PuTTY. Either way, the fact that Windows 10 has two good options for SSH is worth celebrating.

Want more SSH options for Windows? Our roundup of SSH tools for Windows 4 Easy Ways to Use SSH In Windows 4 Easy Ways to Use SSH In Windows SSH is the de facto solution for securely accessing remote terminals on Linux and other UNIX-like systems. If you have a remote SSH server you want to access, you'll have to download an SSH client.... Read More will tell you about the alternatives.

Explore more about: PowerShell, Remote Access, Windows 10.

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  1. RobertMAnderson
    October 25, 2018 at 5:24 am

    I just tried windows SSH and I found it tedious and slow. I ll stick to putty

  2. Someone
    October 23, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Using putty in 2018 lol
    Just install cygwin

  3. Aykut
    October 23, 2018 at 8:34 am

    You want rsa less ssh ? Thats how you get it.

    Stick with plink and putty.

  4. Pete
    October 23, 2018 at 5:42 am

    Is it really necessary to reboot the system to finish installing a SSH *client*? That sounds so unnecessary - and so old school (read: bad) windowsy. Thought we were past that in Win 10.

  5. Felix Domestica
    October 23, 2018 at 4:00 am

    Another way to get ssh, of course, is to load a WSL environment, which gives you a pretty complete Linux command-line environment and all the bells and whistles that come with it.

    On the other hand, if Windows came with an X server so -- with ssh forwarding -- the remote machine could open GUI windows on the Windows desktop, _that_ might be interesting. (Yes, I know X server implementations exist for Windows; I want me to take responsibility for making it work. Heck, that would also let WSL run Linux GUI apps without much more work.)

    Though to be honest, the main reason I'm still on Windows is that the DAW I've invested in never offered a Linux port, and I don't want to try running something that hardware intensive on a VM.

    • Felix
      October 23, 2018 at 4:03 am

      s/want me/want MS/ of course. Darned auto-incorrect...

  6. Ed
    October 23, 2018 at 12:30 am

    I just tried windows SSH and I found it tedious and slow. I ll stick to putty

  7. S
    October 22, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    MobaXTerm use free for up to 10 sessions but worth the price if professional